Tuesday, 18 August 2009


17/8/09, Assembly (Edinburgh Fringe)

We went to this bit of late-night music making because Jo's boyfriend S was playing the trumpet (and indeed the teapot: a metal one, with a trumpet mouthpiece shoved in the spout and a hinged lid so he could do the wah-wahs).

Down in London S plays with a band called The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, fronted by an accordion-playing songwriter called Martin. For this gig they teamed up with an accordion-playing New Yorker who also fronts a band , called in his case This Ambitious Orchestra.

The Fax Machine stuff was noisy, raucous, funny, dark: it reminded us of the Tiger Lillies and Vivian Stanshall.

The New Yorker's stuff was rockier (and he didn't actually play the accordion much). His words were completely inaudible but his arrangements seemed musically much more ambitious and, unlike Martin, he was a showman. The British musicians recruited for the show (from a variety of sources, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra!) evidently thought he was a bit of an arse, but he was unquestionably a performer and gave the audience good value.

He'd brought one or two of his own band with him, including a horn player with a sweet smile, green dangly earrings and red tights under her little black dress, who clearly thought he was wonderful because she scarcely took his eyes off him during his set.

Martin fronted the first half with the New Yorker on piano (he dropped his music after the first song and there was a long hiatus: deliberate sabotage or genuine accident?). Then Martin played piano for the New Yorker.

Musically I can't judge it, but it was energetic, noisy, toe-tapping stuff and worth it just for the teapot and to see more than 20 musicians jammed onto the Assembly Supper Room stage.

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